TPW Commission Implements Two Year Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Zone in Four Counties

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AUSTIN— A surveillance zone covering almost 200,000 acres in Duval, Jim Wells, Live Oak and McMullen counties will be implemented for two years after feedback was received in the August meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) Commission. This zone will take effect prior to the 2022-2023 hunting season and TPW commissioners will consider the resulting data presented by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff to assess the need for continued surveillance in the established zone.

This zone will include land between U.S. Highway 281 to the east, Farm to Market Road 624 to the north and U.S. Highway 59 to the west. The southern border follows a series of roads including County Road 101, Highway 44, County Roads 145, 172, 170, and 120.

This zone also includes the cities of Alice and Freer, as well as highways 59, 44, and 281 between the cities and the main body of the surveillance zone. This will provide a legal means for hunters to transport whole carcasses to deer-processing facilities and/or CWD check stations located in those cities rather than having to quarter the carcasses first.

As of late August 2022, 376 captive or free-ranging cervids — including white-tailed deer, mule deer, red deer and elk — in 15 Texas counties have tested positive for CWD. First recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado, CWD has since been documented in captive and/or free-ranging deer in 30 states and three Canadian provinces.

Testing for CWD allows wildlife biologists to get a clearer picture of the presence of the disease statewide. Proactive monitoring improves the state’s response time to a CWD detection and can greatly reduce the risk of the disease spreading to neighboring captive and free-ranging deer populations.

Hunters outside of established surveillance and containment zones are encouraged to voluntarily submit their harvest for testing at a check station for free before heading home from the field. A map of TPWD check stations can be found on the TPWD website.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease found in certain cervids, including deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family. The disease is highly contagious, never goes dormant and can remain infectious on the landscape for several years. If left unmanaged, CWD can have long-term impacts on the native deer herd and local economies. Symptoms may not become evident until long after animals have become infected, so testing is the best tool available for detecting CWD at the earliest stage of infection possible and containing it with appropriate management strategies. Clinical signs may include progressive weight loss, stumbling or tremors with a lack of coordination, excessive thirst, salivation or urination, loss of appetite, teeth grinding, abnormal head posture and/or drooping ears.

To date there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or non-cervids. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend against consuming meat from infected animals.

For more information about CWD, visit the TPWD web site or the TAHC web site.